Tuesday, 23 May 2017

The Path of the Gods - time for a change?

This year there is even more talk than usual about the  Path of the Gods, the famous and very panoramic trail winding high above the Amalfi Coast attracting keen hikers, and not only,  from all over the world.
In two  posts from previous years "The Path of the Gods" and " The Path of the Gods - suitable for everyone?", I  had already raised my concerns about the fact that many people who turn up to walk this trail underestimate its difficulty, even to the point of expecting to find a gently meandering and level path through shady woods (honestly, this was what cruise ship customers had been told..). It is nothing of the kind, and whilst for someone reasonably fit and correctly shod it is more than feasible, it is not something to be undertaken lightly. For newcomers it is definitely advisable to go with an experienced guide (of which there are many).
I am not a guide but I am passionate about hiking in our area which is why I created my website. This year I have received an incredible number of requests for guided walks, (which I happily redirect), and inevitably the majority are for the Path of the Gods.
I haven't been there  for some time, and frankly have no desire to go. From all accounts it has become terribly overcrowded with queues forming along the narrower stretches where it is single file only.  What used to be a place of peace and sublime tranquility, the silence  broken only by the occasional bleating of the goats, has been transformed into a chattering, noisy mass of people busy taking selfies. Naturally the state of the path is also degenerating thanks to the passage of far too many feet and little or no maintenance.
The Path of the Gods has become the In Thing with local and foreign agencies busy selling guided walks, both private and in maxi groups, accompanied by any Tom, Dick or Harry, qualified or not. The other week, a young girl, sent by her agency and wearing plimsolls with no real grip,  was seen accompanying two much older and well-equipped hikers along the trail. She had never been before. She, the "guide" was the one in difficulty, not the couple she had been paid to take. This is asking for trouble. Accidents can happen at the best of times, but it is one thing to be with people who know what they are doing and are familiar with the path, it is quite another to be accompanied by people who haven't got a clue. 
As soon as the emergency services get called out, the news hits the press: "The Path is dangerous", "The Path should be closed", "Path of the Dead". 
It is not the path that is dangerous, but the lack of control and lack of information. Why not start by installing information points at either end of the path, where people in unsuitable footwear can be discouraged or even stopped from going? Why not start checking that the guides are actually authorised? Dare I even suggest that they start thinking about limiting the number of people allowed on the path at any one time? Just a few thoughts, before the Path becomes once again headline news.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Easter Saturday Village Walk

If you are in the Massa Lubrense area on  Saturday 15th April and like walking, I highly recommend that you join us on the traditional Easter Saturday walk, the Camminata fra i Casali. It is an excellent opportunity  to enjoy the lanes, paths and villages of this area away from mass tourism and what's more it is completely free!
Giovanni Visetti, well-known cartographer and ex walking guide, is the man behind what was originally the Camminata dei 23 Casali (the walk of the 23 villages) which this year reaches its 22nd edition, returning after a pause of a couple of years.
This year the walk is a loop, starting and ending in Sant'Agata sui Due Golfi, with a short coffee break in Termini and a longer stop for lunch or sandwiches in Massa Lubrense. The walk lasts all day, commencing probably at  10.00 a.m. (the precise time will be published later to coincide with arrival  of the local bus from Sorrento) and ending at around 17.00. However if you do not have the time or the energy to do it all, you can easily stop/start in Termini or  Massa Lubrense using the local bus service.
This year's itinerary of around 14km, (slightly shorter than previous editions), takes you through the villages and the countryside along routes rarely used  nowadays even by the locals. It is often panoramic, but also includes places of  historical, architectural and anthropological interest such as Sant'Agata, the washhouse at Canale, the village of Monticchio, the mill at Santa Maria (if accessible), Torrione, Quartiere, Vescovado and  Cerriglio in Massa Lubrense. There will be numerous opportunities to take photos.
Although the walk is entirely along municipal thoroughfares, many of these are pleasant country tracks or paved lanes. Hopefully it will include the stretch from the chapel at via Sant'Anna to the centre of Santa Maria, blocked for over 20 years by a landslide, and which follows the banks of the Rio Grande dell'Annunziata. 
By walking from Sant'Agata via Termini and Massa Vescovado, participants will be able to get food and drinks along the way or even have time for a quick meal in one of the local restaurants in Massa. 
This year's Camminata, organised by the local council (Comune) of Massa Lubrense, will be co-ordinated and led by expert excursionists (FREE - Free Ramblers, Escursionisti Epicurei of which SorrentoAmalfiWalkWithUs is part).
Further details will be published nearer to the time, so keep an eye open and come along!

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Jeranto and the first wild orchids

Taking advantage of a free Saturday morning, the bright sunshine and crystal-clear sky, I left my house to clean itself and took myself off to the Bay of Jeranto on a mission. I hoped to find the first wild orchids of the season.
The hike down to the bay was a delight. The
strong wind had cleared the skies and the views were spectacular.  Spring was definitely in the air with flowers galore to distract me along the way and the lizards were out in force.
I walked down through the grounds of the FAI, past the few buildings and onto the open scrubland of the erstwhile quarry. Rather than following the official path overlooking the sea, I cut in towards the rocks, vaguely remembering where I had found the orchids in previous years. 
It looked very much that I was too early. I could see the first signs of the plants pushing up through the ground, but they were still very, very small and nowhere near to flowering. However there were  a couple of surprises along the way:
a rather long black snake (biscia) that crossed in front of me and slithered into the rocks (sadly I wasn't quick enough to get a photograph) and several bushes of bright blue lithodora that I had never realised were there. I began to think that I would have to be content with these and come back in a few weeks' time.
Never one to give up, I continued searching and all of a sudden found what I was looking for: a bee orchid in full flower. A dozen photos later I carried on my quest and found some more. More photos.
Pretty satisfied, I reached the end of the clearing, admired the views of Capri and Punta Campanella, before zig-zagging my way back through the bright yellow bushes of euphorbia in the vain hope of finding a few more.

Monday, 2 January 2017


Oh dear! Is it just me, or are there others of you out there who have reservations about the recently released video "Made in Heaven - il paradiso รจ qui" produced for the local Council to promote the delights of Massa Lubrense and entice visitors to this area.

Whilst fully appreciating  the  photography (no one can deny that we live in a stunning area) and whilst not entirely disliking the music (apart from the first piece), I really cannot understand the need for "a story" or at least not this story, which involves a retro couple of vapid character and 3 extremely irritating damsels who spend their time draped over balconies, flitting down lanes and swimming in improbably azure water. 
And what is all that about the fresh cheeses? Their sudden appearance  hard on the footage of our heroine in her bath is all very odd, almost disconcerting!
Maybe I am missing something, but the overall impression is that they have tried too hard. It is too constructed, too artificial, too pseudo-symbolic. This is a pity, since if you removed or even replaced, the famous five , it would be great.
I have linked the shorter version (8 minutes) for any one who hasn't seen it. There is also a longer version if you can bear it!